The Gillette Wild were swept over the weekend for the second-straight series in Great Falls, Montana.
Gillette dropped Friday’s game 4-1 and then Saturday’s game 6-1 against the Great Falls Americans (12-2), the second-ranked team in the Frontier Division.
The Wild (10-5) dropped to fourth in the division below the Sheridan Hawks, and lost their fourth in a row after a 10-1 start to the season.
“As a coach, you don’t really want to believe in ebbs and flows to a season. I guess we’re in one right now,” Wild coach Steve Kruk said. “It’s interesting how quick a season can change.”
Wild forward Declan Young scored both of the Wild’s goals over the weekend.
In each game, Young put Gillette ahead 1-0 in the first period before the Wild gave up multiple unanswered goals in each game.
“We scored the first goal in each of the two games, and that was it for our offense,” Kruk said. “In the last four games we’ve scored four goals, so you can’t average one goal and expect to win.”
Penalties continued to hurt the Wild as well, because the Americans scored four of their 10 goals on the power play and the Wild's second-leading scorer, Jacob Kaminski, didn’t play over the weekend because he was serving a three-game suspension.
Wild goaltender Shane Phillips stopped 35 of 39 shots on net in the first contest, and the team's other goalie, Anthony Seykora, stopped 43 of 48 in the series finale. Great Falls’ goaltender Viktor Wennberg stopped 55 of the 57 shots he faced in two games.
“Great Falls, for two nights in a row, was just more hungry,” Kruk said. “They competed harder. They backchecked harder. I think they got more traffic in front of our net than we did in front of theirs.”
This weekend, the Wild head to the Bozeman Icedogs’ Haynes Pavillion for another road Friday-Saturday series in Montana. The Icedogs sit at the top of the standings with a 14-1 record.
Icedogs’ leading scorer Hazen McKay is the third leading goal scorer in all of North American Tier III hockey with 21 goals in 15 games played this season.
“They’re very offensively gifted,” Kruk said. “The more time you spend in your own zone, especially against a team like Bozeman, you’re going to run into a lot of trouble.”